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Smallest dinosaur found ‘trapped in amber’

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Lida XING

Scientists have discovered what they say is the smallest known dinosaur.

The new species has been described by one team member as the “weirdest fossil” she has ever worked on.

The specimen, from northern Myanmar, consists of a bird-like skull trapped in 99-million-year-old amber.

Writing in the prestigious journal Nature, researchers report that the dinosaur would have been similar in size to the bee hummingbird – the tiniest living bird.

The stunning find may shed light on how small birds evolved from dinosaurs – which were often bigger.

While the smallest dinosaurs, such as the bird-like Microraptor, weighed hundreds of grams, the bee hummingbird weighs just 2g.

“Animals that become very small have to deal with specific problems, like how to fit all sensory organs into a very small head, or how to maintain body heat,” said Prof Jingmai O’Connor from the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing.

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HAN Zhixin

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Artwork: Despite its tiny size, Oculudentavis appears to have been a predator

The new species, dubbed Oculudentavis khaungraae, appears to have dealt with these challenges in unusual ways.

For example, the animal’s eye structure surprised the scientists.

Birds have a ring of bones, the scleral ring, that helps to support the eye. In most birds, the individual bones, called scleral ossicles, are simple and fairly square.

But in Oculudentavis, they are spoon-shaped, a characteristic previously only found in some living lizards.

The bones of the eye would have formed a cone, like the eye bones in owls. This indicates that the dinosaur had exceptional vision.

Unlike owls, the eyes faced sideways and the opening at the centre of the ossicles was narrow, which would have restricted the amount of light coming into the eye. This provides strong evidence that Oculudentavis was active in the daytime.

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‘We are winning the generational debate’

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Though presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders did not pick up as many delegates as he had hoped in last night’s primaries, he vowed to fight on because his campaign resonates with younger voters.

  • 11 Mar 20

 

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Up to 70% of Germany could contract virus

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Reuters

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Chancellor Merkel addressed reporters alongside Health Minister Jens Spahn

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has warned that up to 70% of the country’s population – some 58 million people – could contract the coronavirus.

Mrs Merkel made the stark prediction at a news conference on Wednesday alongside Health Minister Jens Spahn.

She said since there was no known cure, the focus would fall on slowing the spread of the virus. “It’s about winning time,” she explained.

Her remarks came as Italy entered its second day of a national lockdown.

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte announced the closure of schools, gyms, museums, nightclubs and other venues across the country, which on Wednesday passed 10,000 confirmed infections.

What’s happening elsewhere?

New York’s governor announced that troops would be sent into New Rochelle, a town north of the city, in an attempt to contain an outbreak of the virus, as the total number of US cases passed 1,000 on Wednesday.

A one-mile (1.6km) containment zone was in force around New Rochelle – with all of those in the zone quarantined.

In Italy, which has seen a steep rise in cases, Mr Conte pledged 25bn euros ($22bn) to tackle the outbreak – up from the 7.5bn euros announced last week.

Music festivals and other major events, including Coachella festival in California, have been cancelled or postponed. Berlin city authorities on Wednesday banned all events with more than 1,000 participants.

Thousands of flights have been cancelled worldwide as airlines struggle to cope with a slump in demand.

A UK health minister, Nadine Dorries, said she had tested posi

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Harry ‘duped by Russian pranksters phone call’

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AFP

Two Russian pranksters claim they duped the Duke of Sussex into making comments about quitting the Royal Family.

One of the pair, Alexey Stolyarov, told the BBC Prince Harry discussed various issues after they impersonated teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg and her father in two phone calls.

In the calls, Prince Harry is said to criticise Donald Trump over climate change and describe his decision to end official royal duties as “not easy”.

Buckingham Palace did not comment.

Mr Stolyarov – who performs as part of a duo with Vladimir Kuznetsov – told the BBC’s Moscow correspondent Sarah Rainsford quotes of the two calls published exclusively by the Sun newspaper are “accurate”.

The BBC has been unable to verify the authenticity of the phone calls, made on New Year’s Eve and 22 January.

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EPA

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Vladimir “Vovan” Krasnov, left, and Alexei “Lexus” Stolyarov are known in Russia for phone-based pranks

The Sun reported on Wednesday that, in one call, Harry said of his decision to step back as a senior royal: “Sometimes the right decision isn’t always the easy one.”

“And this decision certainly wasn’t the easy one but it was the right decision for our family, the right decision to be able to protect my son,” the duke added, according to the Sun.

“And I think there’s a hell of a lot of people around the world that can identify and respect us for putting our family first.”

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Media captionMeghan and Harry’s last event as senior royals

In another extract published online, Harry is said to remark

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New rules could spell end of ‘throwaway culture’

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The rules will apply to a wide variety of products

New rules could spell the death of a “throwaway” culture in which products are bought, used briefly, then binned.

The regulations will apply to a range of everyday items such as mobile phones, textiles, electronics, batteries, construction and packaging.

They will ensure products are designed and manufactured so they last – and so they’re repairable if they go wrong.

It should mean that your phone lasts longer and proves easier to fix.

That may be especially true if the display or the battery needs changing.

It’s part of a worldwide movement called the Right to Repair, which has spawned citizens’ repair workshops in several UK cities.

The plan is being presented by the European Commission. It’s likely to create standards for the UK, too – even after Brexit.

That’s because it probably won’t be worthwhile for manufacturers to make lower-grade models that can only be sold in Britain.

‘Ambitious’ proposal

It’s all part of what one green group is calling the most ambitious and comprehensive proposal ever put forward to reduce the environmental and climate impact of the things we use and wear.

Proposals aim at making environmentally-friendly products the norm. It could mean manufacturers using screws to hold parts in place, rather than glue.

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AFP

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The EU aim is to give manufacturers an incentive to ensure the longevity of products

The rules will also fight what is known as “premature obsolescence”, the syndrome in which manufacturers make goods with deliberately low lifespan to force consumers into buying a newer model.

One green group, the European Environment Bureau (EEB), s

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Is this the beginning of the end for Sanders?

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Call it Mini Super Tuesday, or Super Tuesday: The Sequel. No matter the name, a week after Joe Biden surged into the front-runner position, he consolidated his lead. The bottom line is the race now appears to be firmly in his control.

Six states held primary contests for the Democratic nomination, with the former vice-president winning Mississippi, Missouri and Michigan.

Results from Washington, Idaho and North Dakota are still to come in, and Bernie Sanders will hope to do better there.

But the Vermont senator has fallen further behind in the marathon race to decide who takes on Donald Trump in November.

Here are the key takeaways from the night.

The beginning of the end?

Four years ago, Michigan gave Bernie Sanders a surprise win – albeit a narrow, 49-48 one – breathing new life into a campaign that was struggling after Hillary Clinton dominated Super Tuesday.

This time around, the Midwestern state could mark the beginning of the end for his campaign.

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The difference, according to exit polls, were white voters, union voters and college graduates. Sanders won all three groups in 2016. On Tuesday night, Biden put them in his column. He carried college graduates 51-44, whites 51-45 and union members – 30% of the primary electorate – 54-42.

Add that to Biden’s already strong performance among black voters, late-deciders and those who are looking for someone who can beat Donald Trump, and it’s the recipe for a comfortable win for the vice-president.

The ease of the result will raise new questions about whether the 2016 Michigan primary was a reflection more of Clinton’s weakness rather than Sanders’s strength. At the very least, it’s evidence that rather than improving on his 2016 performance, the Vermont senator is falling short.

And if he’s falling short in Michigan, his path to the Democratic nomination is narrowing fast.

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Media captionBiden curses Michigan voter who said he’s taking Americans’ guns.

Biden wins the South

Mississippi was the first state to be called for Biden on Tuesday, and it was only the latest example of the strengths of his campaign – and another reason why the former vice-president appears to be in the driver’s seat as the primary season unfolds.

As in South Carolina, the state that started Biden’s politic

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Coachella music festival delayed amid virus fears

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One of the world’s biggest music festivals has been postponed due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Coachella was set to take place next month in the California desert with Rage Against the Machine and Frank Ocean among the headliners.

The event’s organiser Goldenvoice has now postponed it until October, at the request of local health authorities.

Latest figures show the US has more than 950 confirmed cases of the disease and 28 deaths.

The Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival is one of the world’s most high-profile music events with many celebrity attendees.

This year hundreds of acts were set to perform including Travis Scott, Calvin Harris and Lana Del Rey.

Stagecoach, a country music festival organised by the same company, has also been moved from April to October.

“While this decision comes at a time of universal uncertainty, we take the safety and health of our guests, staff and community very seriously,” Goldenvoice said in a statement.

Coachella will now take place on the weekends of 9, 10 and 11 October and 16, 17 and 18 October, while Stagecoach will be held on 23, 24 and 25 October.

The event organiser said all purchased tickets will be honoured and anyone who boug

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SXSW, Ultra Music Festival will not offer refunds after coronavirus-prompted cancellations

The ongoing coronavirus outbreak has prompted (and is continuing to prompt) numerous festivals, artists, and even films to postpone or call off their scheduled events over health concerns. Miami’s Ultra Music Festival and Austin’s SXSW have both called off their annual events for the first time ever, and to compound fans’ disappointment, it seems they will not receive refunds from the festivals.

An email sent to Ultra ticket holders, posted on Reddit, says that “ALL tickets purchased” will “be honored at either the 2021 or 2022 Ultra Miami event,” giving ticket holders 30 days to choose which event they will attend. The email evidently makes no mention of refunds. (One Reddit user claimed he obtained a refund by visiting Ultra’s Miami office in person.)

Meanwhile, a letter to SXSW badge holders said refunds will not be issued, and that 2020 registrants “can opt to defer their registration to 2021, 2022, or 2023.” The festival’s public refund policy states, “SXSW does not issue refunds under any circumstances,” including “failure to use Credentials due to illness, acts of God, travel-related problems, acts of terrorism, loss of employment and/or duplicate purchases.”

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Corey Feldman apologizes for (My) Truth streaming problems, blames hackers

As Corey Feldman’s sexual abuse documentary (My) Truth: The Rape of Two Coreys continued to be plagued by streaming issues, the actor issued an apology Tuesday and maintained that he believes the technical difficulties are the work of hackers.
In a statement sent to those who paid to stream the film, Feldman said, “First and foremost I want to thank you for purchasing tickets to My Truth: The Rape of Two Coreys — and for showing your support for this mission that is so important to me and children everywhere. Next, I want to apologize profusely to you for the experience you had trying to view the film. My team and I are aware of your frustration. As you know, I have put every resource I have, not to mention my own personal security, to make this film and to get it out to you. It seems as if there is a group of people trying to silence me and this very vital cause. I will not let anyone silence me or you any longer.”

Feldman debuted the film — which details sexual abuse he says he suffered as a child in Hollywood — at a special screening in Los Angeles on Monday night, and it was set to stream simultaneously via his website for anyone who paid the $20 fee to access it. EW was in attendance at screening, held at the Director’s Guild of America, where a few minutes into the film Feldman stopped to announce that the live stream wasn’t working for those at home and would be delayed. The stream was eventually scrapped altogether.

“It’s just tragic, guys, I don’t know what to say here,” Feldman told me
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Troops sent to New York virus ‘containment zone’

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EPA

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Residents of New Rochelle have been taking precautions

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has announced a one-mile (1.6km) coronavirus “containment zone” around a town north of New York City.

New Rochelle has seen “probably the largest cluster” of US cases, he said.

National Guard troops will be used to clean schools in the town and deliver food to any quarantined individuals.

The death toll in Italy, one of the countries worst hit by the virus, rose to 631 as the authorities placed the whole country in lockdown.

The latest increase in deaths in Italy – 168 – is the biggest the country has recorded in a single day, and the total number of cases went from 9,172 to 10,149.

Italy’s death toll is the highest outside China, which recorded its lowest number of new infections, just 19, on Tuesday.

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Media captionHow life looks under Italy’s coronavirus lockdown

China, where the virus was first detected, has seen a total of 80,754 confirmed cases, with 3,136 deaths.

In other developments:

What does containment mean?

New York state has 173 active cases, the most in the US, and 108 of them are in Westchester County, where New Rochelle is located.

New York City, 25 miles (40km) south of New Rochelle, has 36 confirmed cases of the virus in its population of eight million people.

Mr Cuomo said there would be no travel restrictions in New Rochelle (population 77,000) but large meeting points in the area would be closed.

Schools, gathering places and businesses in the virus hot spot will be closed for two weeks.

Officials will also set up a coronavirus testing facility at a local hospital.

“It is a dramatic action but it is the largest cluster in the country and this is literally a matter of life and death,” Mr Cuomo said, adding that numbers of cases were “going up unabated” in New Rochelle.

“You’re not containing people. You’re containing facilities.”

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New York Governor Andrew Cuomo says travel is not restricted in and out of the city

A synagogue is at the centre of the New Rochelle outbreak, local media report.

A man in his 50s who attended religious services is belie

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